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DM, junior coalition partner: No to fYRoM ‘name issue’ deal; support for govt solid nonetheless

The head of the small right-wing party propping up the current mostly leftist Tsipras government on Tuesday repeated that his party’s MPs will not vote for any agreement to resolve the fYRoM “name issue” that includes the term “Macedonia”.

Nevertheless, outspoken Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who founded and leads the small rightist-populist Independent Greeks (AN.EL) party, told reporters in Athens that his party will not engage in “any move that undermines the country’s exit from the program”.

He was referring to the third bailout extended to Greece by institutional creditors, which officially expires on Aug. 20, 2018, while essentially confirming that AN.EL will steadfastly remain the junior coalition government despite whatever objections to the Tsipras government’s policy on the fYRoM “name issue”.

In fact, Kammenos precluded the possibility of even taking opposing sides in Greece’s parliament over a forthcoming “name issue” solution, predicting that the bilateral agreement will not be ratified in the neighboring country by either a referendum or in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s Parliament.

While on the one hand rejecting, outright, the prospect of an agreement that includes the name “Macedonia” – such as the one included in current provisional fYRoM, where the “M” stands for Macedonia – Kammenos heaped praise on the negotiations conducted by the mostly leftist government that he backs in Parliament as an MP and as the defense minister on the Cabinet.
“Greece has gained something very significant from the negotiation … namely, that it is not the one that is blocking fYRoM’s path towards the EU and NATO. Greece wants a solution, and the party opposing this is Skopje,” using the capital of fYRoM to identify the entire country, a former constituent state of one-time Yugoslavia.

Even while repeating his small party’s opposition to the prospective agreement, he opined that it was a better deal that what other Greek governments and parties could have achieved.

He also called on main opposition New Democracy (ND) to clarify its position on the fYRoM “name issue”. Kammenos was elected to Parliament with center-right ND continuously since 1996, before being expelled from ND’s parliament group in 2012.